Views, beaches, and scrumptious food on a day tour of Royal National Park and the Illawarra
Wattamolla Beach – Royal National Park
You’ll have already wound your way through the ancient forests and heathlands of the world’s second oldest national park – Royal National Park – when you arrive at Wattamolla. Once here, you’ll find a waterfall plunging from a clifftop into a quiet lagoon which is separated from the ocean surf by a spit of sand.
The lagoon is a popular swimming spot. Safe and calm, it’s especially inviting for families. Following the boardwalk to the beach – you may be forgiven for thinking you’ve really found a hidden corner of paradise. Here, the turquoise sea is hugged by green and rugged cliffs, while a generally gentle surf crashes on the sand. Behind you – the sound of the waterfall and the daredevil’s jumping off the cliffs.
Outside of swimming season, visitors may prefer to take in the views from Providential Point Lookout – a short walk from the beach. The lookout affords a sweeping view of Wattamolla Beach, the open Pacific, and points south.
Bald Hill Lookout
The 360-degree view greets visitors to the Bald Hill Lookout in Stanwell Tops never fails to elicit a “Wow” from first timers. Not least if it’s a good day for hang-gliding.
Having emerged from the southern end of the Royal National Park or having wound your way to the coast along Lawrence Hargrave Drive from the Princes Highway – this well-appointed lookout is a great place to stop and simply breath in the magnificence of the south coast.
Perched some 300 metres above the sea, the lookout affords a sweeping view southward into the Illawarra. Between the verdant hills and the rolling waves of the blue-green Pacific you’ll see the communities of the Illawarra.
From here there is a great view of the Sea Cliff Bridge – part of the Grand Pacific Drive – winding its way sinuously down the coastline.
There is also a small café, as well as toilet facilities, at Bald Hill.
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Sea Cliff Bridge
Drive it, walk it, ride it – however you cross the Sea Cliff Bridge you will be rewarded.
The bridge replaced an old and increasingly unstable road which had been carved into the cliff face above the surf. One final rockfall in 2003 closed the old road for good.
The locals, having lost their only direct connection to neighbouring communities put the pressure on for a replacement. Sea Cliff Bridge – named by an 11-year-old girl as part of a competition for local primary school kids – was opened in December 2015.
Sign posted parking is available at both the north and south ends of the bridge – the walk across and back again, if you cover the full length, is about 1 kilometre.
A Cold Drink with the Locals
Pubs, clubs, and hotels dot the communities of the Illawarra. Here are three great spots to stop for a cold drink and enjoy the local vibe.
Scarborough Hotel, heritage listed and dating from 1886, is the most beautiful of these three. Their clifftop beer garden offers sweeping views. In addition to cold drinks, the Scarborough offers a full lunch menu as well as a café serving coffee, tea, and sweets.
The Scarborough Wombara Bowling Club offers the visitor a quintessential slice of Australian cultural life. While the Bowlo may lack the heritage finery of The Scarborough Hotel – it does offer barefoot bowls with an ocean view, cold beers, and a Thai Australian bistro.
There’s nothing fancy about the humble little Coledale RSL – it’s just a classic, local club. The bistro menu here runs towards pub classics like burgers and schnitzels – enjoyed either in the club or the beer garden. If you’ve never been to an RSL – this is a good one to pop into. Local musicians often play here during the day on Saturdays or Sundays.
Between Bald Hill Lookout and Thirroul there are no fewer than nine beaches and four ocean pools. Each offer something special and has its partisans. They are, from north to south: Stanwell Park Beach, Coalcliff Beach, Scarborough Beach, Wombara Beach (with a rock pool), Coledale Beach (with a rock pool), Sharkey’s Beach, Little Austinmer Beach, Austinmer Beach (with a rock pool), and Thirroul Beach (with an ocean pool – filled with ocean water but separate from the sea).
Wherever you stop along the way – do finish at Thirroul Beach. Here, a long gentle curve of golden sand stretches in either direction and life savers are on duty watching over the surf. The Thirroul Beach Pavilion, right on the beach, offers a great place to sit and take it all in over breakfast, lunch, or coffee and cake.
Wattamolla Beach, Waterfall and Lagoon – Royal National Park
Sydney Adventure Tours offers private charter tours to the South Coast visiting these and other locations. The above are within a short drive from Sydney and may be visited during our 6 or 8 hour trips.
Tours are also available in the City of Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Northern Beaches, and the Hunter Valley. Bespoke tours can be arranged to meet your needs.